+ inload: Leman Russ Battle Tank +

+ Shades of Father Ted +

+ Having pontificated at length in the last inload about using a paint scheme to unite disparate models [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], I proceeded with panic painting for the event in Bristol... and ended up painting a tank the wrong colour. +

+ The Lovely Girl here was intended to go with the Catipürnan World-Turners and their associated PDF – the neutral black and white scheme I was outlining in the earlier inload. +

+ Not really paying attention, I ended up using (warm) sepia ink instead of (cool) Payne's grey. After working this in, the tank ended up looking like my Lamb's World vehicles [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], and I guess muscle memory just took over. + 

WIP: The sepia ink granulated beautifully; helped along with some granulating medium.
+ Mainly an experiment in creating texture quickly, I wanted to give the impression that the Lovely Girl is an old mothballed tank, pressed into service by the local PDF. To achieve this, I created wells of sepia ink, Scorched Brown diluted to a watery consistency and Chaos Black, also diluted to a watery consistency. I then pulled the wells together in my palette, and added flow enhancer to the freely-mixing colours. +

+ This was then painted liberally over the surface with a 12mm (½in) flat brush. Working wet-in-wet, I rinsed the brush and used it to apply generous amounts of granulation medium, particularly to the flat surfaces. This medium causes the pigment particles suspended in the paint to clump up, resulting in a grainy appearance. It works best with media that naturally granulate, like sepia ink. +

+ I then rinsed and dried the brush, and used it to selectively lift off the wet paint/ink/medium mixture from the surface, by touching the clean dry brush to the tank's flat areas: the brush draws up the paint (just like loading your brush from your palette), leaving an area of clean highlight. +

+ The pict-capture above shows both the good and the bad effects this has. The speckled high-contrast finish produced by the granulation is most obvious around the hatch, and I think it's pretty successful here. The rear of the sponson, however, just looks a bit mucky. It's not a convincing illusion here. The engine block (on the right of the image, above the trailing part of the track) shows the effect of lifting out – the underlying colour is revealed once more. +

+ It also shows off some of the quick detailing – handprints, hazard striping and shading around the rivets. It's a bit crude, but not bad for a speed paint – in all, this took me around two hours from start to finish; so in terms of quick texture, I think I'll count this a successful experiment. +

+ In terms of painting it the right colour, not so much! +

+ Small details like hand prints – presumably a post-battle superstition adopted by the crew – go a long way to personalising a tank, and implies more detail than is actually there. Like the lenses on the turret, and the weathering scratches and dings, they help to break up a surface that can otherwise just look a bit messy or dull. +

+ inload: Using a paint scheme to unite an army +

+ Catipürnan World-Turners +

+ The Silence event, run by Bristol Vanguard, is coming up this weeked [+PROTOCOL: commence calming respiro-stressorcism+], and my genestealer cult/dominated PDF force is... ticking along. Not quite where I'd like to be, but the end is in sight. +

+ Basing still to do +
+ The pict-capture above shows some battle-ready late generation hybrids, toting shotguns and supported by a heavy stubber. While not finished to a great standard, I think they're a good example of how a pre-planned scheme and tonal contrast can give good results. +

+ Theoretical +

+ In any army that contains markedly different aesthetics – such as the Steel Legion guardsmen and xenos genestealers – it's particularly important to have some way of tying the different strands together visually; otherwise it'll just look hotch-potch. To make things more manageable for myself here, I chose to run with a near monochrome scheme of cool off-white and off-black, with yellow-orange accents. +

+ Still WIP; the goggles will be red-orange. +
+ The brood brothers (the PDF that have come under the sway of the Patriarch and his coven) are painted virtually white. Their fatigues are Calth Brown, and their armour and gun casings Charadon Granite. +

+ The genestealers turn this on its head, being mainly black (Chaos Black with a touch of Macragge Blue), with near-white skin – the latter painted with Pallid Wych Flesh, with touches of Screamer Pink and Macragge Blue. +

+ The hybrids sit midway between the two, using elements of both: Calth Brown fatigues and Charadon Granite armour, but near-white flesh and blue-black carapaces. I've used Dheneb Stone hints here and there, too – on the ragged clothing, for example. As a similar near-white hue, it fits in nicely, while not matching the skin. +

+ Practical +

+ This WIP shot shows how I approached painting them – starting from the inside out; by which I mean that I painted the underlying clothing (brown fatigues), then painted the hard armour, then the equipment (guns etc.). The skin is left to near to the end. Because I spend far more time and effort on this, leaving it 'til last reduces the chances of accidentally getting paint or muck on it. Much easier to repaint an anonymous patch of clothing than an obvious focal paint like the face. +


+ Personalities +

+ These two – the cult icon bearer and a PDF ogryn bodyguard – show that a sufficiently flexible scheme will work even for egregious or unusual models in an army. The icon bearer is an earlier generation hybrid; so the skin is closer to the Patriarch's cool blue-tinged hue than the ruddier skintones of the 'normal' humans. Both use the dull grey armour – and this 'neutral' hue is used for both the cultist's banner and the ogryn's shield, too. Both have some eye-catching yellow accents. +

+ Neither is particuarly well-finished (I hope at some point to come back and refine them a little; particuarly the banner), but the strong paint scheme and more attention on the faces means that they will add to the army's overall visual well. Basically I want them to stand out a little – but remain obviously part of the army. +


+ Grandfather Nurgle is whispering temptingly +

+ Plague Marines. Plague Marines! Part of the delay in getting my genestealers done is the steadily-swelling mass of Death Guard lurking on my desk and distracting me. +

+ I showed off this chap last week, but managed to get a pict-capture over the weekend in better light. These colours are a lot more accurate, and help show that even a near-monochrome scheme doesn't need to be flat and boring. Judicious use of yellow and purple pin washes, and warming sepia-based inks help give some interest; helped along with accents like the yellowing ivory spikes and ice-blue vision slit. +

+ Two Plague Marines and their squad leader. The leader's a minor weapon swap, giving him a plasma gun and plague sword in place of the default power fist. The other two are the first multi-part Death Guard I've put together; and proved a slightly frustrating experience. It turns out that the kit has lots of pegs and guides – useful to help avoid poses that won't work without conversion (a boltgun across a chest bursting with tentacles that physically block the other arm, for example) – but an annoyance for more substantial conversion work, as you have to trim them away to free up the limbs. +

+ Nothing dreadful, but worth me bearing in mind. 

+ Poxwalkers are de rigeur, but I quite fancy having some cultists. More recognisably human, they'll provide a good baseline size to make the Plague Marines appear suitably hulking. +

+ inload: Sprucing up second-hand miniatures +

+ Aberrant +

The feared Abominant of the Catipürnan World-Turners Dunpha Gnao (you can blame Warmtamale) alongside some of his less twisted brethren. Not quite at the level I'd normally hope for, but I think he works. +

+ Buying second-hand +

+ Renovating miniatures can be a fun part of the hobby. For single-piece models like metals, it's often a necessity, as they're no longer available directly. There are lots of guides on stripping paint (I use a dwindling supply of Fairy Power Spray, for the record), so I won't dwell on that. Instead, I thought it might be useful for people to see what you can do with second-hand plastics. +

+ The finished Plague Marine from yesterday's inload [ref: pictcapture above] is an example of a second-hand model that I've repainted.  As a point of interest, I thought I'd post up some of the others from the batch, to show what I look for when buying second-hand. +

+ For this example, I worked directly over the underlying paint: buying the right second-hand models can mean the difference between a frustrating strip and rebuild, and a speedy, pleasing experience. +

+ Buying second hand +

+ The things I look for are:
  • Thin paint – details should still be clear. This is less important if you're planning to strip before repainting, but blobby paint is generally a bad sign anyway. It can hide poor construction. If you can, examine them in person, or ask for close-up details.
  • Quality of build – Look for outstanding mouldlines and sprue detritus, plus any nicks, cuts or scrapes. Do always ask how the model has been put together – superglued plastic figures are easily broken apart to rebuild, while poly cemented ones are more labour. 
  • Parts used – This is the big one for plastic kits. Unless the seller is including the leftover parts, you'll be stuck with the options they've picked. Make sure they're what you want; or you can end up with false economy. 
  • Construction – Are they well-posed? Multi-part kits can easily look a bit [SCRAPSHUNTERRORABORT] if they're badly assembled. I prefer to look for ones with more standard posing, as this eliminates the need to break them apart and rebuild.
  • Basing – Although bases are amongst the easiest things to update, the base is something that is very distinctive. If your aim is for the second-hand models to fit in with your army, look for models with bases that match yours  or better still, are unbased.
  • Compatibility –  This is more of an issue if your army is heavily converted or otherwise non-standard; in which case out-of-the-box models can stand out like a sore thumb. The same applies in the other direction too – cool converted models don't always fit in nicely.
  • Price – The price can be the kicker in these deals. A seeming bargain can be outweighed if you can't fix them up to your satisfaction; and equally it's sometimes worth paying near-retail if they're exactly what you want. Do make sure to take fees, postage etc. into consideration. If the difference is a couple of quid, it might be worth just buying retail (or discounted retail) and having the reassurance of the full, fresh kit.

+ These models are a good example of great second-hand models. I paid less than half retail price for them, they're nicely assembled, unbased and have only a thin coat of paint. +

+ In order to fit into my army, I'm only going to need to make minor tweaks – drilling out the weapon barrels, a couple of head and weapon swaps etc. They've been cleanly assembled. +

+ inload: Painting Plague Marines of Nurgle +

+ Painting the Death Guard +

'The living know that they will die, and many know that they will live with disease or other torment, yet they drive this knowledge into a corner of their minds and keep it pinned there with all manner of dreams and activity. Nurgle is the embodiment of that knowledge and of the unconscious response to it, of the hidden fear of disease and decay, and of the power of life which that fear generates. '
Realm of Chaos, The Lost and the Damned page 12

+ This extract underpins Nurgle for me. Like much from this roleplay-driven period of Games Workshop's past, it's a more complex and nuanced definition that explains some of the in-universe appeal of Grandfather Nurgle and his followers, despite their repulsive appearance. +

+ Nurgle is sometimes flanderised into a simple 'god of plague', but like all the Chaos powers, there's a huge amount of depth to explore. +

+ Plague Marines +

+ I'd been trying to motivate myself to paint more genestealers for an event a week on Saturday (eek), but just couldn't get going. I ended up painting this chap, just to lance the boil of Nurgly enthusiasm. Seemed to work alright, as once I'd done that, I was able to get cracking on the genestealer abominant. +

+ Lovely models, the new Death Guard. Size-wise they're akin to Primaris or truescale (i.e. Terminator-sized) marines; slightly shorter but bulkier overall. The proportions remain similar to the older models; I wonder if they were designed at the older size, and rescaled? Digital design would have allowed such tweaks at a later stage, and explain why (for example) the shins are so broad, and collar so large in comparison with the helmet. +

+ Either way, I don't think it really matters. By their nature these models are gloriously over-the-top, and the larger surfaces gives the painter something to get stuck into. +

+ This particular model was bought second-hand – he'd been nicely assembled and had received a simple paintjob (the now-standard light olive green) that I worked over to give him something more akin to the Horus Heresy-era scheme. It's using two colours I haven't used before, Citadel's Pallid Wych Flesh for the off-white, and Death Guard Green for the shoulder pads. Interestingly, this second colour is all but identical to Vallejo's Afrikakorps 773, from their Tank Aces range. #themoreyouknow +

+ I think buying some models second-hand is a great way to try new things out. Not only were these less than half the price of buying the same models new, but they also provided me with some additional challenges. Perhaps most importantly of all, buying pre-assembled means that you avoid any unconscious aesthetic choices I might have made in building  – avoiding certain components, for example. The proviso is that you need to ensure they're well-built; it's frustrating to be doing clean-up and repositioning on second-hand models, and it can become a false economy. +

+ Depth was added across the model using a wonderfully free and variegated combination of sepia ink and various Citadel washes, added both wet-in-wet and overlaid in glazes and pin washes. The ink adds a little welcome glossiness in place. The important thing to bear in mind is that they're meant to look worn-down and covered with the detritus of centuries of war, not a single layer of mud. It's important to keep the tonal contrast and pull the highlights back after shading.+

+ I've used the same dirty metal approach here as I have on my Iron Warriors infantry (and others – it's becoming my go-to technique for metals)  [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. +

+ The tentacles, horns and various grotesqueries that adorn the model have been treated fairly naturalistically here, but part of the appeal of this range of models is how I can be quite experimental with details and weathering – they really don't need to look uniform. +

+ I'm fairly pleased with the result. It's perhaps a bit too complex; I would have preferred some more open areas to contrast with the profusion of detail, and to demonstrate some smoother gradients and perhaps some freehand. The helmet's about the only space I was able to to this – even the knee pads have spikes and angles! +

+ Part of the reason for this was their second-hand nature – the previous owner had used two of the (very cool, admittedly) shoulder pads with sculptural detail, and retained a lot of the spikes and growth that I'll be clearing off my own. Those spaces will allow me to get the broader gradients and more controlled weathering – but that's for the future. +

inload: Lore of the Officio Monstrosa

+ Officio Monstrosa +

[+Collected text-scraps – part I+]

+ Recently I've been gathering together and tidying up a few loose ends – reorganising my storage space, clearing out old junk and generally having a bit of a Spring clean. This has included some draft inloads here on Death of a Rubricist that I thought would be fun to share. For example, I've been collecting together the text excerpts from my Bolter and Chainsword forum Iron Warriors blog [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], which were intended to link together into a short story – though they ended up becoming novella length(!) +

+ For those of you following the project, I hope it's a nice refresher – there's lots of previously unpublished material – and for readers who haven't seen the project, I hope you enjoy it all linked together. +


+ Officio Monstrosa Part I +

'The Eagle soars to the heights, the bird of mighty Jupiter carrying thunderbolts; it is a bird worthy of Jupiter and the sky, which it furnishes with awful armaments. This bird brings back the thunderbolts which Jupiter has flung and fights in the service of heaven.  
He that is born on earth in the hour of its rising, will grow up bent on spoil and plunder, won even with bloodshed; he will draw no line between peace and war, between citizen and foe, and when he is short of men to kill he will engage in butchery of beast. He is a law unto himself, and rushes violently wherever his fancy takes him; in his eyes to show contempt for everything merits praise.  
Yet, should perchance his aggressiveness be enlisted in a righteous cause, depravity will turn into virtue, and he will succeed in bringing wars to a conclusion and enriching his country with glorious triumphs. And, since the Eagle does not wield, but supplies weapons, seeing that it brings back and restores to Jupiter the fires and bolts he has hurled, in time of war such a man will be the aide of a king or of some mighty general, and his strength will render them important service'. 
Astronomica Liber V, Manilius


I am bound not by fetters, but simply by the knowledge that the figure opposite me, injured as he appears, is capable of killing me. We are squatting in a trench dug – maddeningly – into a soaring buttress over three thousand feet in the air, which itself is deep within a distant wing of the Palace. I am not sure why I am alive. The Iron Warriors, when they marched into the local square, were unopposed.

The Palace is so vast, and the horrors of the invasion so widespread, that it is possible this area was forgotten or overlooked. I tell myself this to bring sense and comfort to my heart. The alternative is that the Emperor, and his generals and his mighty armies – that have spanned the galaxy, yoked worlds by the thousands and driven out all enemies – have decided that this place is simply not worth defending; an area of little strategic worth.

With little else to do in the trench, I have plenty of time to think.

My thoughts churn and curdle in the unhealthy atmosphere. There is another possibility. Perhaps they cannot defend us. The Warmaster's title is said to be more than mere pomposity. Indeed, it is said to be a tautology – that Horus defines warfare. Never mind this down-at-heel district of his Palace; in the face of his perfect creation, can the Emperor even protect himself?

The Iron Warriors entered the square uncontested, but not unmet. Over fifty thousand souls – scribes, servants, charwomen and the like – had gathered to watch the grimy procession. It was a peculiar parade. The tanks had whispered in, some form of sound-muffling technology masking the advance of even the largest. The Space Marines had followed, marching in perfect lockstep, as silent as cats. Even the heavy artillery gun carriages had been silenced by padding – discarded clothing? – to muffle the noise of the great metal wheels on the cobbles. There were no cheers. Somehow the creeping way the soldiers arrived was worse than a crashing, crowing triumph.

Worse than the stomach-knotting thought of being conquered was the uncertainty. Even then, we were uncertain whether these troops marched for the Emperor, or for the Warmaster. The kernel of hope made the fear colder in contrast. I do not know what happened to the crowd. Someone, perhaps overwhelmed at the curious quiet, panicked, tried to fill it. The crowd bucked as though vomiting, pushed, cried out, fled. I do not know how or whether – the Iron Warriors reacted. Suddenly there was pressure and sweat, and the stink of urine. I was trampled.

When I awoke, it was to the reverberation of an Astartes' voice, reciting what seemed like a catechism or meditation. I am sure he knew I had awoken. I am told that their senses are finer than the rest of us. If he did not detect the change in my breathing, he might have heard my heartbeat race.

'Saramanth, I was there.' It did not have the air of confession. The words had the air of a dry legal statement. 'Dheneb, I was there.' The statements were accompanied by the sound of a whetting knife being drawn slowly, repetitively. The scraping was so quiet that my ears, quite unconsciously, began to pick up the myriad other sounds of the trench. The crackle of a smokeless, lightless chem-block fire. 

Occasional trickles of dust as distant ordnance fired off, setting the hurriedly-dug trench walls trembling. Dead soil settling.

'Tallarn, I was there.' I do not think the litany of planets was for my benefit, though I had heard of scant few he mentioned. Distant worlds, unheralded, unmarked. Certainly none of interest to me. 'Compliance – hm. I was there.' This last campaign was punctuated differently by the Legionary. I could not be sure whether the warrior had coughed, hesitated, or given a mirthless laugh. He paused, and I tensed, and then he continued sharpening his blade, and I relaxed.

Perhaps that is the wrong word.

My name is Anatol Charas, and I am a captive.

I am bound not by fetters, and my mind, in any case, yet remains free.

Tentatively, I reach out. If the figure notices the feathery psychic touch as I wear his memories, he gives no sign.

I wince. My Strange is vestigial; instinctual. It comes and goes – with tiredness, stress, or excitement. Memories are not like reading a book. Some are personal, understandable. Others... well, concepts bleed in – things that could never be witnessed personally. They are gestalt memories; unconscious future echoes of humanity as a whole.

I suppress my nausea as the first memory washes over me...
The Crusade sweeps outward from Terra, from Sol. Not steadily; not in an expanding halo, but in jagged bursts that followed void-routes and steered past grumbling warpstorms. The maps of the nascent Imperium grow quickly – too quickly for detail. Overlaid and revised and replaced, the lines and nodes start to resemble a river delta, or nervous system. 
Lanes that carry pioneers, forerunners and scouts expand and swell to encompass battle groups, merchant shipping and Expeditionary fleets. The routes change and stutter and overlap, overwhelming the astromancers and cartographic staff. Admirals and Generals push on eagerly, heedless of the flagging scribes and recordists grasping at their backs – calling out warnings, too fast! too much!

'Dheneb. The inhabitants might not call it that, but it is. It's an old one.' Zaricus Cjarn sat in the cold chamber alongside a scattered few of his Mustermates, listening to the gritty voice of the Palatarch of the Chain. He couldn't remember the speaker's name; or rather, like anything of little importance to him, he had determined not to remember it. The Kheledakos demanded discipline; and sometimes that required wilful ignorance. The lodge could always rely on its brethren to be circumspect.

The Palatarch continued. 'It's the last star in the zodiackal chart for the region.' Cjarn had remembered that. The fanciful shapes the Ancients had drawn between the stars might serve little practical use, but they were somehow iconic, unforgettable. They spoke to something deep within Cjarn, within the Iron Warriors as a whole: a need to draw patterns, forms connections. 

Priding themselves on pragmatism, on the Imperial Truth, the Iron Warriors refused to confront or discuss this urge, even as they conquered the stars, even as they justified their irrationality to themsevels. The signs of the zodiac had demonstrable propaganda purposes, they reasoned. The Remembrancers shape their work into lions, and sea-goats, and weighing scales in turn as, one after another, the constellations came into the Emperor's realm – and humanity will respond

Even so, the primarch Perturabo would not have deigned to recognise this inefficient structure; but for the increase in recruitment for the Imperial Army – and the concomitant support his Iron Warriors received – such symbolism attracted. This star, then, was particularly special. This star marked the final point in the constellation Aquila

Ah, to the Legions, there is no speed too fast; no achievement too rich. They are too eager, too capable, too fast for human frailty to concern them; certainly not to delay them. They are harriers loosed; darting out to find new lands, and bring them, forcibly if necessary, onto the stuttering, swelling maps of mankind. 
The Reserves become the IVth, become – briefly, quietly – corpse grinders, then spill over Olympia, and then... 
And then... they make pause, for a little while. They are reforged; beaten into shape. They become the Iron Warriors.

The promethium-rich caverns of Dheneb Primary are a net of tunnel fighting; the Astartes of the Footsore 242nd Grand Company clashing with the combat rigs of the defenders, bottling them into boltholes and bringing down the fury of the Legion on them. 

Fury is not enough on its own. Reactive piledrivers give the combat rigs a punch that shatters ceramite; and debased STC trans-rifles give particles of heavy metal sufficient stopping power to reduce even armoured Space Marines to cooling corpses.

Cjarn is at the forefront, Comitas in hand. Cjarn fights well with the axe. The blade is flat-edged and a dull carbon-black at the apex of an unusually long handle. With the nudge of a runekey, it glows a subtle violet, just at the edge of sight – eye-watering and uncomfortable, like staring at an open fire from just too close. 

The knob of the eagle-chased generator on the poll robs the bit of weight – but when your blade is hefted overhand by the swollen musculature and poise of an Astartes, and aided by the crackling, matter-disruptive technology of Old Mars, the difference is rendered moot. 

In any case, the poll acts as a counterweight – which allows Cjarn the speed to de-power Comitas, add his other hand to the grip and heave. Ten foot tall and braced against the tunnel walls by secondary limbs, the combat rig nevertheless staggers forward, the axe embedded within the outer carapace like a fishing hook. The Iron Warrior releases his off-hand and reaches for a grenade, blindly.

His hand scrabbles at an empty belt. He turns his head to look.

Deneb Al Okab Australis. The south star in the tail of the eagle. In truth, it was nowhere near the other stars. As soon as craft left Terra, the lie was put to the constellations through simple astronomical parallax; the still, glittering stars proving nebulous and reluctant to accede to humanity's dreams. 
Reluctant. But dreams are sometimes irresistible.

The distraction allows the combat rig pilot to rally; to whirl a primary limb down and across Comitas, crushing Cjarn's hand and flinging him into the side of the tunnel wall. The rockface explodes with a cloud of rubble and dust, and his armour begins to chime insistently, warningly.

He is bleeding. He is injured. He is furious.

Disarmed and scrambling backwards, Auto-gyros destabilised, he can't find his feet. His armour is deadweight; blank. It is coming back online too slowly. Cjarn skids over on the detritus as he tries to stand, the mass of his armour slowing him. Tearing off his helmet, Cjarn looks up at the looming combat rig, its primary arms raised to smash him. Comitas is lodged in its flank; yearningly out of reach.

His injured hand is bleeding angrily; the musculature clamping and spasming around shards of his gauntlet. He can feel the cold stone dust settling, turning the wet blood white. Scrambling backwards, his hand clamps around a cylinder. He doesn't look this time. Whatever the object is, it feels metallic in his dust-and-blood-caked grip. It feels solid. It will serve as a weapon.

Cjarn is found, eventually. He is at the centre of a junction, breathing heavily amidst bodies. Blood – in great crimson loops – decorates the walls. Stimms and pain-suppressants render him near-insensible, his eyes wheeling and breath sawing in and out. The Apothecary pauses, before advancing warily towards him, palms up. Cjarn would not be the first Iron Warrior to suffer from combat psychosis. 
In any event, the Legion recognises and rewards success. The events of Dheneb makes Cjarn a Palatarch, stepping into his dead sergeant's shoes. After Kolosos, the eye falls on him again, marking him as a brevet officer. And then... the Warmaster calls.

Later, he can't remember how he had come to find the other axe – or rather, it is irrelevant. 

He fights well with both, now. Comitas remains reliable; versatile. The other axe... is not. It is slightly too fast; the heavy head drawing on the shoulder. Where it strikes, it bites deep – too deeply, unless arrested. It requires more concentration to wield. Cjarn has had to adjust his expectations of what an axe can do; adapt his style. Now he can catch it by the throat reliably, collaring it. For all its shortcomings, it is a wonderful weapon. 

A single piece of some curious metal, engraved and sculpted into a fanciful shape, the blade is otherwise plain. Unlike Comitas, it is unpowered; its technology begins and ends with being weighted, sharpened metal. To assist his grip, Cjarn has bound the whole handle with plaited leather. He did it personally, sceptical of the epimiletis-armourers' ability to match his requests.

The Crusaders return to Terra, abandoning the cold constellations once more. Not in the winding manner in which the routes were found; not in a contracting halo, but in a spear-tip aimed at humanity's cradle. The maps of the Imperium are ignored. Lines and nodes collapse, like a chemical structure buckling; promising and hinting at possible new forms. 
Too fast! too much!

'Give me my armour! Give me my armour!' The phrase, which had started as a demand, had become a froth-laden bellow. The bondsmen, their backs to the cell, wince slightly as the marine begins to slam his fists against the dirty armourglass again. Over and over, he repeats his attacks, his hands little more than clubs of blood.

They try to ignore the battering, which continues frenziedly, without rhythm. His words – his mantra – become an atavistic howl, then a wordless shriek. One of the bondsmen nervously peeks over his shoulder. The naked Astartes' eyes are bulging in rage, unfocussed and pink with broken blood vessels. The armourglass is smeared with blood, with spit, with acid burns. 

'Should we stum him again?' one of the bondsmen whispers. The other opens his mouth to speak, just as the door to the dimly-lit chamber begins to open. The great wheel in the centre turns, ponderously at first, then more freely. The bondsmen unlimber their rifles and bring them to their shoulder, trying to ignore the garbled, spitting demands of their charge.

'Pax.' The Iron Warrior's command is given as he steps into the room, and the bondsmen relax their aim and step back. As the caged Astartes sees the new arrival, the hammering slows, then renews. 
'Give me my armour!' The last word trails off as the Astartes screws his eyes shut in rage and begins battering his head against the glass, his hands open and trembling. 'I'll kill you! I'll kill you all!'

The new arrival steps forward, and raises a hand to place it against the armourglass, quizzically. He holds it there. It doesn’t so much as tremble under the other's barrage of blows.

'Is it meet to treat with us so, because a stranger is dead?' 

The bondsmen look uncertainly at one another. Were the visitor's words a question? Again, the second bondsman opens his mouth to speak, and again stops short. The two Astartes lock gazes. They pause for a moment, their faces preternaturally alike; their individual birth-seed overcome and subsumed beneath the bleak dominance of the Emperor's genetic manipulation. Their faces, like so many of the legion, are scarred and imperfect reflections of Perturabo's; their features hard, as though chipped from a great flint. Their expressions are similarly bitter and bilious. Hard lines cluster around the free Iron Warrior's pinched, thin-lipped mouth. In its fury, the other's face has become a patchwork of strained white-yellow and red-purple, the skin pulled taut by muscle and clusters of tendons. Their faces are inches apart. His nose and brow are pressed against the glass, straining, desperate. His eye wheels, searching.

All of a sudden, as though a switch had been flicked, the caged Space Marine stops. His hands drop, smearing wetly down the glass. His breathing slows, though ragged puffs of condensation beneath his nostrils belie the suddenly-chilly exterior. He seems to relax a little, though his face remains pressed firmly against the glass, the flesh distorted, any nobility made grotesque under the pressure. The silence is as eerie as the rage.

He wets his lips, slowly. Then, his eye fixed on the visitor, and in a voice no louder than a whisper, he speaks.

'Give me my armour.' 

The new arrival appears to reach a decision. His face remained dour, but the bondsmen detects a hint of amusement as he turns to address them. 

'Give him his armour. Tell the centurion a very particular duty awaits.'

The Primarch. Orders from the Primarch! Direct from his mouth; special orders, a special duty – and on Terra! The hubbub, while low, is audible. The officers and specialists, variously seated or standing around the tiered chamber, try to anticipate Perturabo's purpose here; to find patterns or meaning in the choices of personnel summoned to the lodge chamber. 
Cjarn, alone of those gathered, remains truly impassive. The others wear their masks: whether literally, in the shapes of their formal helms, or emotionally, their faces carefully – and wisely – blank as their mercurial Primarch steps in. 
Words are spoken.  
Comitas is belted at his waist. The other axe is in front of him. Cjarn's armoured thumb toys with a loose strand of the braided, bloodstained leather. The movement is not born of distraction. Cjarn's impassiveness is not a lack of care, or empathy. Nor is it a desire to reject this terrible duty – for the truth is that it is not merely onerous, not merely dangerous. 
It is a duty monstrous in its implications: to cage and preserve a Primarch.
Neither for anger; nor cold revenge, but for the simple act of trapping an immortal in an eternal cage of iron, and allowing isolation to break the unbreakable.
Cjarn's humours remain in balance for one simple reason: because it is not just Cjarn that influences them.

Terra. The rad-deserts. The 242nd seek an entrance long-hidden; an entrance to the Imperial catacombs.

Dust lies across the fallen figure, drawing white streaks across the grubby armour. It lies in dry eyes. He was dead and staring before the explosion had draped him in his stony shroud. 

Not long before, mused Yavuz. He squats on his haunches next to the corpse, his own face pinched. Resting his hands on his knees, he pauses for a moment to enjoy the stretch in his hamstrings and lower back. His armour fizzes. The pitiless light throws stark shadows; highlights the cracked plate and throws skin, scaly with rad-wash, into bald relief.

Above the distant sound of small arms fire and shrieking shells, Yavuz hears footsteps. Considered, but not wary. Konstantin stops besides the squatting warrior, cradling his boltgun. He purses his lips. 


Yavuz nods once in reply. 'You were not close.' Konstantin continues, his tone disinterested. Yavuz might have smiled.

'No.' It is an odd statement for his squadmate to make, particularly given the circumstances. He reaches forward unhesitatingly, drawing his combat blade and moving to one knee in the same movement.

The silver edge cuts easily through the scalp, lodges, is freed with a slight grunt. Yavuz cradles Nikephoros' head, his expression pinched in concentration as he wrenches upwards. A crackle of distant, particularly unusual gunfire – Mass-accelerator? Volkite? – accompanies the motion. Yavuz places the top of Nikephoros' skull gently to one side, then tilts the head to let the hard light in. He raises an eyebrow, almost in surprise. Despite the rad-count, it is pink, unspoiled. Konstantin kneels beside him, places his boltgun down as more members of the Muster filter in. Yavuz slips two fingers into the brainpan, lifts out a glistening grey-pink chunk and places it in his mouth.

His thoughts might have shamed him once. Weakness. This is the first meat he has tasted since systemfall. By the Warmaster, it is good. Konstantin can not hide his hunger, either. Yavuz detects a rise in his Mustermate's heartbeat, sees him lick his lips.

Yavuz places Nikephoros' head back on the floor, then sits back, meditatively. The warriors ranged around the area remain watchful, as Konstantin flips open the dead Astartes' pouches for ammunition, his expression impossible to read. The distant gunfire swells with the wind, then falls away. An eerie whine sounds. An irrelevant siren. Who is it for? Who does not understand the danger by now?

Yavuz's skin blanches, then flushes. He sits, cross-legged, still. While they wait, Konstantin uses his combat blade to scrape away the few honour marks on the dead legionary's armour; using the blade in a rocking motion to make a crude 'X' across the Muster and Chain markings; specialist litany, his oath-parchment  – everything except the Legion's dead-skull symbol. His expression is unreadable, his muttering all but inaudible.

Finally, he jabs the point of the knife into the corner of the eye socket of the Legion symbol. Pulling back on the blade, he levers out the black onyx. He places it to one side, then repeats the process on the other eye socket. His movements are careful, steady. A shell, much closer, makes him flinch, but he continues after a moment. He places the two near-circles in his hand, pools of glossy black, then uses the handle of his blade to break them, cracking them into shards. With a rolling motion, not unlike a pestle in the mortar of his hand, he grinds them to grit. Finally, he holds them over Nikephoros' face, and lets the grains spill through his gauntlet, covering the eyes. 

He pauses, looking at the fallen warrior silently. After a short time, he gives a dismissive grunt, reaches out for his boltgun, and stands. An intake of breath made him look back at Palatarch Yavuz, still sitting cross-legged.

Yavuz opens his eyes.

'I... know the area.' he says, hesitantly. 'The Fists are... that way.' 

The war devours the Legion. The collapsing of Imperium is a gradual affair, but Terra is a furnace burning hot. The sky is alive with death.

'Adtactus! Hostica!'

Radoslav is on his feet, heavy footfalls slamming and skewing on the treacherous dusty marble. He dashes a dozen yards or so, then throws himself down, his dull iron armour skidding him along into the dubious cover of a statue. The pediment is shattered irrecoverably, almost as though it had burst, and the statue itself – a titanic figure, twenty foot or more high – has fallen lengthways. His boltgun tucked firmly in one hand, Radoslav begins crawling quickly along the length towards the head.

Alongside the sudden roars and heavy crack-boom of boltguns, and beneath the steady high-pitched rattle of rotor cannon fire, there are the smaller sounds of war. The drizzle of brass shellcases onto marble floors, the crunch-fluid scrabbling of sand and rubble, and the rising hum and buzz of auto-reactive power armour. 

Two more Iron Warriors skid in behind him, their backs to the statue. The first, an unhelmeted figure with a nose not so much broken as smeared across his face, nods to him, raises a power axe in salute. His eyes gleam mischievously, his grin revealing teeth sheeted with crimson. As one, the three rose up, boltguns in hand, firing as soon as they crested the statue.

It is good cover.

It is not good enough. The lower half of the statue vanishes in a sudden cloud of marble dust that billows like clapped board dusters in a scholam.

The Larraman's Ear is intended to allow an Astartes line warrior super-sensitive hearing. His autosenses work in concert to cut out damaging auditory input; ensuring the best of both worlds. For this reason, Radoslav feels the explosion more than hears it, though such was the power of the impact that his armour itself rings like a bell. The rigid armour plates ripple, cracking and crimping. He feels his left hand being pulped, and the armour straining to hold his leg straight to prevent joint dislocation.

A secondary function of the Larraman's Ear – implanted into the skull in the space vacated by the scooped-out and discarded pulp of the inner ear – is to ensure the Astartes is almost impossible to disorientate or confuse. It was this, and this alone, that meant Radoslav and Cjarn are immediately able to scrabble backwards and avoid the second, third and fourth detonations which bring down the roof of the building. 

Demo charges. Demo charges. The Fists are destroying the Palace itself to keep them out. Battered and bleeding, Radoslav shakes his head and begins to follow his Centurion back to the Iron Warrior lines.

Days pass. The tunnel is found. Warfare rages beneath. 
As above, so below.

The officer looks down.

'Iron without, certainly'. He glances around, disinterestedly. 'Looks mainly like he was meat and blood, within.'

Another dead Iron Warrior couldn't be mourned. Not here. Not now. Deep in the catacombs, worming through Terra like wickedly-deadly grubs, the Officia Monstrosa have not seen daylight for a long time – not that there was any to be found on the scorched surface.

By the accounts of the fragmented reports – by necessity, gathered from psychic spoor by their Biblios – the surface is apocalyptic. The seas have boiled. The land, always hard, has become rad-scorched and haunted by the strange beings of the between-veil. It is constantly tormented by tectonic shifts, as though the bones of Old Earth are trying to shake off its monstrous children. Billions, if not trillions, are dead, displaced, or had been driven insane.

'Within. Without. All over the sarding place.' the other Iron Warrior's tone is flat, measured. 'Another dead eidikos. We're dangerously close to a statistical likelihood of failure, Cjarn.' The officer whips around, bristling, his fingers playing on his axes.

'You will remember your place, legionary!' he barks. In an instant, from nothing, the centurion’s face has become taut and white with bald fury, the tendons on his neck and veins on his forehead suddenly prominent, one eyelid flickering wildly. 'I couldn't give two steaming shits whether I confront the Old Stone with the Warmaster's Legions gathered at my back, or crawl at him single-handed and bare-arsed. As long as one of us lives to place one solid cut on that stone-faced, black-hearted monster, we continue. Dorn is going to rot in a cage; blind, mewling and limbless – forever.' 

The two stand facing for a moment, the slits in the legionary's blank faceplate giving nothing away. Cjarn's eyes are chilling, empty, utterly consumed by an insane and bottomless hatred. After a moment, the legionary bows his head. Cjarn's face snaps back to its customary emotionless mask, nothing apparent remaining of the outburst, save for a speck of froth at the corner of his mouth.

'We'll need Charisto's gun.' the legionary says, without rancour. The centurion gives a curt, controlled nod, and the legionary bends to salvage what he could from the dead Iron Warrior.

They no longer observe the rituals of obscuring the honour marks. Honour is a foreign concept in this war.


+ inload: The King of Beasts +

+ The King of Beasts +

Representing nature, mastery of fear, and fruitfulness, the Suit of Beasts has belonged to the traditional Cephean card deck since its earliest generation. Inverted, these qualities become associated with malignant growth, panic and moral turgidity. While the other suits are only occasionally decorated, the Beasts are traditionally individually illuminated with man-animal hybrids that reflect the problems of the state at the time. In the past, poverty, disease and outside powers have dominated, while later periods subtly allude to political unrest, economic uncertainty or division within the Wellborne houses.

Cephean folkart also traditionally associates the Cardinal cards with the Beasts – the artwork for the Bishopric Martial (VII) and The Cyngs Enthroned (XIX) being particularly ripe for satire – in theory reminding heads of the state that they sit by the will of the people; while in practise being an opportunity for the lowest form of mockery.

Of course, such satire walks the fine line of sedition. The Wellborne court have traditionally allowed the people of the City this minor vent for their frustrations – indeed, Ferlinghetti has seen the cards of Cyng Bodonis VIII, who – for a period – hoarded and revelled in the most seditious of such cards, particularly favouring those who reflected him most monstrously. Other rulers or governors have banned such cards – and meted dreadful punishments on their artists, ranging from imprisonment to torture; even exile and death in some cases. 

This has lent the artists a certain cache in some circles, and the card-artist is a stock figure in many Cephean entertainments, being a symbol of puckishness and mischief. Colyn of Cern is the semi-fantastical tale of a celebrated artte-bandyt of Cephean folklore; his tale describes his rise to fame; his triumph over the Forwandlers of the Heath; and finally his sticky (and fingerless) end at the hands of Cyng Bodonis, whose indulgence and sense of humour evidently failed him at the last.

While the tale is certainly sensationalised, Colyn of Cern was definitely an historical figure. Two extant cards can be attributed to him with certainty, as they formed the primary evidence in his trial: the King of Suns and the King of Beasts. One is gloriously gilded and triumphant, showing a noble man clad in golden armour; the other a base beast, distorted and monstrous, with altogether too many limbs and a sinister air. 

Colyn's genius – and guilt – was simply in making the cards form a pair; the crime simply being the transposition of the symbols for Sun-King and Beast

+ Extracted from Childeric's notes on Cepheus – Three Years On + 

+ Some miniatures are straightforward; build as intended, then paint. Others take a more leisurely and planned approach; starting from an initial concept.  My Court of the Sun King project is mostly made up of the latter – and that's part of the reason it takes so long! +


+ Theoretical +

+ Some miniatures are straightforward; build as intended, then paint. Others take a more leisurely and planned approach; starting from an initial concept.  My Court of the Sun King project is mostly made up of the latter – and that's part of the reason it takes so long! +
+ Primarily a conflict between my characters Inquisitor Unfortunus Veck and Sephran Mawl, the project has a third crucial figure: the genestealer patriarch, Papakakek Pameras, who will work as an antagonist to both. +

+ The concept behind this miniature started out fairly simple – for years I've wanted to bring a bit more David Cronenberg-style body horror to Tyranids (Advanced Space Crusade has some really disturbing incidental images of semi-human tyranids, which really stuck with me). A key theme of 40k revolves around the human form and its degradation or corruption – with spiritual or moral corruption often becoming visible physically. +

+ As well as being scary aliens, tyranids also encompass the fear of becoming consumed or subsumed, converted into something else. Big Boss Red Skullz brilliant Nestorian Infestation project [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] explores this concept through an really creative genestealer cult, and that turned me towards genestealers rather than tyranids. They already have hybrids, and I wondered whether I could explore the other side of this – tyranids develop as they progress; so they should presumably explore some human-like elements in their directed evolution. +

+ With these key visuals in place, I thought some more about the character. How would a genestealer operate on a feudal world like Cepheus? I thought that the populace would treat it much like another creature of horror – the vampire. Both are creatures that stalk the night and turn people into things like them, and I thought there'd be some great storytelling opportunities. +

+ Papakakek is patriarch of the Catipürnan World-Turners, a genestealer cult centred on Cepheus. It's slow-growing owing to the isolation of the cult and the planet's low tech-level; but at least one person is aware of the xenos – though not our Inquisitor! +


+ Practical+

+ The model is based on the genestealer broodlord from Space Hulk, as it has a lovely pose; perched like a gargoyle. I toyed with draping it in a tattered cape, but in the end decided that would humanise it too much – I want him still to read as an alien, and a monster; and that meant having the limbs and carapace visible. +

+ I trimmed away much of the technological gubbins – especially the Terminator helms! – and replaced one of the hands. I toyed with removing a limb entirely, as I thought having an injured patriarch would be quite a cool storytelling twist. In the end, I decided I didn't want anything to evoke sympathy or suggest weakness in the creature, so contented myself with reposing the legs into a more passive squat than the stock model. Similarly, I trimmed the arms off and draped them downwards, changing the posture from active and gestural to more considered and passive. +

+ The most obvious change is the face, which is sculpted from greenstuff. I've left the eyes hollow – a common body horror trope – and tried to create an elongated but recognisably human visage. I wanted it distorted, rather than warped, as I didn't want to create a Chaotic (with a capital C) appearance, but keep it alien. +

+ The base is an objective marker – I wanted him to be perched on something high so he can look down on other characters. He is posed to be in opposition to the Sun King model. A nice little unplanned extra is that viewers need to pick the model up to see the face. That forces them to be a bit closer, which keeps the face a – rather unpleaseant! – surprise. +

+ Painting +

+ Still work-in-progress, the idea here was to keep things muted and subtle. I've used blue-greys to suggest a nighttime feel. The Engineers from Alien were a bit inspiration. +